Brave and sage as he was, he could hardly cope at one and the same time with the hostility of the Normans on the west, of the Petchenegs (Patzinaks) on the north, and of the Seljuks on the east and south.
In 1046, and again in 1061, two dangerous pagan risings shook the very foundations of the infant church and state; the western provinces were in constant danger from the attacks of the acquisitive emperors, and from the south and southeast two separate hordes of fierce barbarians (the Petchenegs in 1067-1068, and the Kumanians in 1071-1072) burst over the land.
So important was this traffic held at Constantinople that, when the portage to the Don was endangered by the irruption of a fresh horde of Turks (the Petchenegs), the emperor Theophilus himself despatched the materials and the workmen to build for the Khazars a fortress impregnable to their forays (834).
Indeed his dominion became an object of uneasiness to the jealous statecraft of Byzantium, and Constantine Porphyrogenitus, writing for his son's instruction in the government, carefully enumerates the Alans, the Petchenegs, the Uzes and the Bulgarians as the forces he must rely on to restrain it.
The advance of the Petchenegs from the East gave the Russians their opportunity.